New University Job Cuts Fuel Rising Outrage On Campuses

An open letter signed by thousands of academics from both the UK and overseas has appealed to Goldsmiths, University of London, urging the university to halt the decimation of its English and History departments. As a response to significant financial challenges, Goldsmiths recently announced 52 compulsory redundancies targeting these departments and administrative staff. More than 2,600 signatures are currently on the letter, which stresses the threat hanging over experts with deeply-rooted expertise in Black and Queer History and Black Literature. University management has been accused of prioritizing financial gains over education and treating higher education as fast fashion.

The country’s academic community has already been rocked by ongoing debates about free speech and gender identity, sustained strike action, and a reduction in resources for previously prestigious departments, at Cambridge University. The cost of attending university remains high, prompting widespread concern among students about how they will be compensated should further disruptions occur this year.

Many academics are frustrated with the timing of the Goldsmiths redundancies, pointing out that they are occurring during Black History Month and in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests. The Royal Historical Society’s president has said that the situation in the humanities will continue to deteriorate with further cuts looking inevitable. Despite Goldsmiths having a rich pedigree in English – evidenced by its venture into sponsoring its own £10,000 literary prize for a “mould-breaking” novel – applications to study the subject have been declining.

Institutions such as Leicester University have already witnessed academic unrest over chosen redundancy plans in English departments. There is now widespread concern about the future sustainability of humanities subjects at universities in the UK.

A representative for Goldsmiths University has indicated that the institution faces a significant financial hurdle. Despite efforts to address this, the university continues to be impacted by an underlying deficit, in addition to costs incurred from the COVID-19 pandemic, cuts in government funding that will result in a loss of over £2m annually, and a decline in student numbers in some subjects.

Given these challenges, the university is currently devising a recovery plan to effectively manage the situation. In order to minimize expenses, the university plans to reduce capital costs, while also selling properties that are not essential for teaching purposes. Though a last resort, redundancies may also be considered to reduce costs.

Despite the challenges facing the institution, Goldsmiths remains committed to providing education in a variety of humanities-related fields. These include history, English and creative writing.


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    Oscar Cunningham is a 41-year-old educational blogger and professor. He has been writing about education for over 10 years, and is known for his expertise on online learning and digital media. Cunningham is also a frequent speaker on these topics, and has given talks at a range of universities around the world. In his spare time, he also enjoys playing the violin and running.

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